Glioblastoma Clinical Trials: Potential Therapeutic Advancement

Dr. Howard Colman, an expert in neuro-oncology, highlights a potential advancement in glioblastoma treatment in a recent publication. Glioblastoma (GBM), a highly aggressive brain cancer, poses significant challenges for conventional therapies. Discover the importance of ongoing glioblastoma clinical trials in finding effective treatment options. Glioblastoma, or GBM, is a particularly severe kind of brain cancer. According to Colman, this is the most common kind of malignant brain tumour in adults. Radiation and chemotherapy are both frequent treatments. Unfortunately, typical GBM tumours are often resistant to these treatments and only show a transient response. Because this cancer is so aggressive, tumours often recur and spread.

When patients with GBM recurrence are given a new drug, the tumour frequently only stays under control for one to two months. We are continually looking for better medicines and conducting clinical trials to identify new ways to help our GBM patients.

This phase 2 clinical research looked at a novel viral therapy as well as a medicine that activates the immune system. A checkpoint inhibitor treatment stops cancer cells from generating proteins that allow them to elude the body’s immune system. While immunotherapy, which uses the patient’s immune system to attack cancer growth, has been effective in treating other forms of cancer, it has not always been effective in treating GBM. In this case, the viral therapy is utilised.

By modifying a virus that is often responsible for minor illnesses like the common cold, researchers created a medication that only targets cancer cells while leaving normal cells alone.
The patient receives the checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab through IV on a regular basis, while medical personnel inject the virus directly into their tumour.

According to Colman, “the theory here is that the virus kills some tumour cells, and the dying tumour cells then help turn on the patient’s immune system.”We next give the patient a checkpoint inhibitor, which boosts the immune system’s assault on the cancer. Given that GBM often does not respond to immunotherapy, this might be a significant step forward.

Initially, researchers focused on identifying the optimal dose and assessing the safety of both medications. In phase 2, they looked at how many patients saw an increase in tumour size, a stop in tumour development, and an increase in overall survival.

In this investigation, two cancers responded completely, and around 10% of the patients exhibited tumour decrease. Tumour growth seemed to be delayed in individuals who shrank, and they lived far longer than expected.

Despite the fact that this treatment only appeared to benefit a small percentage of patients in this trial, Colman says, “we hope that we’ll be able to significantly improve survival for some GBM patients, while also working to find other effective therapies for patients where this combination does not work.”

Colman, who worked on the early stages of viral modification at MD Anderson from 2002 to 2010, has completed a full circle.

The Huntsman Cancer Institute enrolled a large number of patients for this research and plans to continue working on the future development of this GBM combination treatment as well as numerous other new therapeutic methods that are now being tested in clinical trials.

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